Oct 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed more than 1%
higher on Monday, as top lender Commonwealth Bank boosted
financials, and energy and gold stocks climbed on strong
underlying commodity prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.3% to 7,287.5, starting
the week on a strong note after four straight weeks of losses.
The market also benefited from a strong Wall Street session
at the end of last week, as investors entered the final quarter
of 2021 in a buying mood.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia notched its best
session in a year and a half and was the top gainer on the
bourse with a 5.1% jump, after completing an oversubscribed
off-market buy-back of about 67.7 million shares for A$6 billion
Heavyweight financials climbed 2.6% in their best
session since January, with National Australia Bank Ltd
, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and
Westpac Banking Corp rising between 1.9% and 2.2%.
Financials stood out, said Damian Rooney, director of equity
sales at Argonaut, adding the market rallied following the big
move in the United States on Friday.
"September was a pretty miserable month for markets in
general, so people are hoping October will start with a clean
sheet," said Rooney.
Australian energy stocks added 1.4%, with major oil
and gas explorers Santos Ltd and Woodside Petroleum
ending 1.7% and 1.6% higher, respectively.
Meanwhile, the country's health minister, Greg Hunt, said
the Delta outbreak appeared to have levelled off, with more than
half the country in extended lockdowns and vaccination rates
starting to approach national targets.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.4%
higher at 13,337.27.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended the level 3 lockdown
in the country's biggest city Auckland, but said some
restrictions will ease.
($1 = 1.3748 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by